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There's some Gift of the Magi in this story.... - Blather. Rants. Repeat.
A Møøse once bit my sister ...
There's some Gift of the Magi in this story....
but I can't quite articulate what it is. So I'll just tell the tale and let the magi, magic, whatever speak for itself.

Two days ago: Long, stressful day.

I was working on a closing from the first moment in the office- one that really would mean the difference between a Happy Christmas and a lot of mizzable. Plus I had a routine, but time-consuming court hearing, in the middle of the morning. To complicate things further, I forgot my phone when I left the house, and didn't have time to retrieve it from home until early afternoon. When I did, there was a message from Eleanor from sometime in the morning. "Just a heads up," she said- she'd made a much bigger than usual Wegmans purchase using our checking account, but it was all for a good reason. (That good reason will follow here in due course.)

Good, except I was virtually certain while listening to the message that there wouldn't be enough funds to cover it until today. That's when her paycheck would post, and it's the soonest that my fee from the closing would hit if it actually happened. I called her back and left my own voicemail in a bit of a panic, telling her not to use that account any further, and also that I'd almost told her before we both left in the morning to ease off on using that account, but that I'd been too ashamed to do so. I've acquired something of a Scrooge-ish rep at holiday time over the years, and I hate saying no to the Christmas Spirit now that I'm trying to overcome my father's chromosomes in that direction.

Eventually, after getting back into the office and seeing actual figures, I figured out that we had a small cushion, and I left a followup voicemail to say that the purchase would probably wind up being okay- but that we'd still just have to be careful until the balance rebounded on Christmas Eve.


Yesterday: Long, stressful day.

It began even earlier at the kids' apartment, the closing went fine at 10, and it was then just a matter of title companies and county clerks making it official- which they finally did at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. I managed to get the proceeds from the deal into my trust account before the end of the business day, but I would still not be eligible to transfer a dime of them to any personal account of mine until today. Meanwhile, our personal bank was still not showing the "big purchase" debits. That's not unusual: Eleanor usually uses something called an "e-check" through Wegmans, which have a day or so of old-fashioned "float" attached to them. But. In checking the online balance, I'd found an earlier transaction, previously missed, which ate up the cushion I'd found the day before and then some. Depending on the order that items got processed, we were looking at definitely one, and perhaps two or three, bounce-check fees at $37 a pop when Wegmans posted those three e-checks in the middle of the night.

However, this was also when I finally got to see the actual receipts for these transactions, and came to understand the whole story of the importance of the purchase(s):

My sister had mailed two Christmas cards to us that came over last weekend. Each contained a picture of her best friend's recently deceased Dalmatian, and a Wegmans gift card. I'd given Emily and Cameron theirs the night before; Emily appreciated the gift card, but was even more touched by the Perdy picture.

What Eleanor had done on Tuesday was this: She used Donna's gift card to us, and the remaining needed amount from our account, to buy them a Visa-Mastercardish gift card that they could use anywhere. But not for just anything: Cameron works construction, and he's been needing a new pair of work boots for months, if not the whole year-plus he's been doing it. Eleanor picked an amount that should get him a pair that will hold him in good stead for a long time to come. So: giving up our own gift card to the cause? Perfect. Giving a greedy bank 37 to 111 bucks for her kindness? Still an annoyance.


That gets us to today, which was, you guessed it, a Long, Stressful Day.

We both worked all day- Eleanor, scheduled to do so all along; me, hoping to take at least the afternoon off, but events said otherwise. There was a ton of post-closing paperwork to mail out, transfers among various bank accounts to arrange, check recipients to write letters for. Also, the return mailer for my main laptop came the other day, so I needed to finish my final backing-up to get it ready to ship out. (I never made it to UPS for that or the Post Office in time to get things actually sent, but not for lack of trying.)

But I did so much more happily- because I discovered, in the wee small hours, that Wegmans posted Eleanor's December 24th paycheck about an hour before they posted the three December 22 purchases that led to Cameron's boots and my moments of panic.

Harm: zero. Foul: zero. Bank fees: zero.

Sometimes, acts of kindness get repaid in ways you have no reason whatsoever to expect. Even if the repayment is merely the absence of a cost.

Merry Christmas. And God bless us, every one:)
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